My dear friend, Michelle, planned a surprise 70th birthday party for her mom who is visiting from New York. Now, anyone who knows Michelle knows that she is such a detailed person that of course everything was planned out down to the damage-free stick-on hangers for all of the decorations. It’s quite impressive and an amazing party. Such a beautiful way to celebrate a beautiful woman.
I was honored when Michelle asked me to help her with creating a dessert for this special shindig. She found a great recipe that was decadent yet light and lovely. She came over on Saturday and away we baked. I gave her all of the jobs I hate to do… grating lemons, sifting flour, etc. (I’m evil) and we proceeded to dance our way around the kitchen (care of Imagine Dragons Pandora station) while making a significant/successful mess.
Oh and of course we both laughed when Paul walked in asking, “Did you take out the butter to soften,” just as I had finished saying, “Oh man! I forgot to take out the butter!”
Caution: When cooking with one of your best friends, be sure you focus enough between chatting, laughing, and dancing to check the measurements of your doubled-up recipe. We both had to keep each other in check.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (care of ???)
Cake: 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, 1/4 cup canola oil, 2 large eggs, 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 1/2 cups cake flour, 1/4 cup poppy seeds, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 salt, 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Glaze: 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 3 to 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, grated lemon (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place granulated sugar, 6 tablespoons butter and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 tablespoon lemon rind, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and vanilla.Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt), stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spoon batter into a 12 cup Bundt pan that’s been buttered and floured. Bake for 38-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Invert cake onto plate. To prepare the glaze, combine butter, powdered sugar, and 3 teaspoons lemon juice. Stir until smooth. If necessary, add the rest of the lemon juice.
Ya just can’t recreate perfection. My mom has ruined every restaurant ordering experience in regards to four dishes: creme brûlée, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and lastly pancakes. I never order any of these when I’m at a restaurant because quite honestly and quite simply, my mom makes the best rendition of all of these. No one can top them, period.
So I was totally excited to make pancakes this morning. I invited over four of our friends and proceeded to build up these light and airy pillows of loveliness to no end.
First mistake: don’t get cocky.
Everything was going swimmingly until it came to beating the egg whites. I always get nervous that I’ll over-beat them, so I accidentally under-beat them. They didn’t turn out nearly as light as my mom’s.
Second mistake: don’t let the egg whites freak you out.
Now, I might also explain that I suck at making pancakes. I’ve really only made them a few times and every time, they turn out lacking pizzazz. Either the flavors were just okay or I would make them too big or I’d sloppily flip them (splattering pancake dough all over the griddle) or I’d burn them.
Third mistake: don’t overheat the griddle.
I’ve watched my mom make these thousands of times, ever since I could stand on the chair next to the butcher block. And every time, her’s were buttery delicious.
Last mistake: you can’t compete with mom.
Pancakes (care of Day Day Chenoweth, dictated from memory)
2 cups flour sifted together with 1 teaspoon baking powder and a little less than a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Separate 3 egg yolks and whites. Stir the egg yolks into the flour mixture followed by 2 cups buttermilk (“possibly more, you don’t want it too stiff but not too sloppy”). Add melted half stick of butter (1/4 cup) to mixture, beat with whisk. Beat 3 egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the mixture. Grease griddle with Crisco.